I bought bitcoin at a deli — here’s how it works

Mario's Gourmet Deli.

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Mario’s Gourmet Deli.
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Frank Chaparro

At first glance, Mario’s Gourmet Deli, a New York City bodega on the corner of West 106th Street and Amsterdam Avenue, looks like a regular corner store.

But inside there’s an ATM that gives folks access to what some view as the future of payments and finance: bitcoin.

The recently installed ATM was featured in a New Yorker piece by Ian Parker, who described it as a “machine with the body of a regular ATM but the soul of a lottery terminal.”

I paid the deli a visit to buy some bitcoin, the digital coin that’s up near 500% over the last year. Here’s what it was like. (Please excuse my poor photography skills.)


Here’s a shot of Mario’s.

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Frank Chaparro/Business Insider

The bitcoin ATM looks like a normal one, but it doesn’t work the same. You can’t withdrawal bitcoin, as it’s not a physical currency, and it accepts only cash.

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Frank Chaparro/Business Insider

A Coinsource bitcoin ATM allows you to buy up to $3,000 worth of the cryptocurrency, which is less than one coin. I bought the minimum amount, $5.

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Frank Chaparro/Business Insider

Before I could make a purchase, I had to put in my cellphone number to verify my identity.

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Frank Chaparro/Business Insider

Upon entering my phone number, I received a text.

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Frank Chaparro/Business Insider

Then I typed the verification code into the machine.

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Frank Chaparro/Business Insider

Next, I had to scan my ID.

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Frank Chaparro/Business Insider

The scanner is right under the keypad. It took a couple of seconds to scan the back of my ID.

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Frank Chaparro/Business Insider

Once all the verification stuff was squared away, I was given the option to either scan my wallet code (bitcoin is stored in wallets) or enter its address. Since I didn’t have a wallet, I had to download one from the App Store.

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Frank Chaparro/Business Insider

I downloaded Breadwallet.

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Frank Chaparro/Business Insider

Instead of giving you a number, Breadwallet gives you a random phrase as a security code in case you ever need to recover your wallet — though if you screenshot the phrase, like I did, Breadwallet will void it and give you a new one.

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Frank Chaparro/Business Insider

When my wallet code scanned, I could start putting cash into the machine. I inserted $5, which at the time was equal to 0.00130916 bitcoin.

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Frank Chaparro/Business Insider

The bitcoin showed up in my wallet after about 20 minutes. When I took the picture, however, my part of a bitcoin was worth only $4.65. That’s because the price of bitcoin declined since I bought in.

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Frank Chaparro/Business Insider

Coinsource has bitcoin ATMs across the country, but most are in New York and California.

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Coinsource

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